Chris Webby was expelled from college in 2009, but this was just a small obstacle for the rapper: two years later, There Goes The Neighborhood, which he put out on his own label, debuted on top of the iTunes Hip-Hop charts. Today, Oct. 23, Webby premieres his latest album, Chemically Imbalanced, days before its release on Oct. 27.
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The album has a varied sound, with some songs incorporating the hard, dirty edges of ’90s hip-hop and others relying on a sweet pulse that leans towards reggae. There’s also guitar funk (“Stand Up”) and icy minimalism (“Ohh No”). Webby recruits established acts like Tech N9ne and Talib Kweli, and even a production credit from Scott Storch.
It’s not surprising that Webby would put together a diverse project — this reflects his general approach to life. “I could hang out with the jocks and shit, even though I wasn’t an athlete,” the rapper says. “I could hang out with the nerds and talk about video games. I could hang out with the hippie kids and talk about how fucked up the planet is. I could hang out with the super hip-hop kids and just talk about hip-hop all day.”
Webby has been putting out albums and mixtapes since 2011, but he sees this as a special release. “Chemically Imbalanced marks the moment that I’ve been patiently waiting for and working towards since I first picked up the pen as a teenager,” he tells Billboard. “My fans have been anticipating [this] since they first threw one of my old mixtapes in their stereos.”
Webby plays New York City next week — the first date on a lengthy tour. (Check the dates here.) “Got me buzzing now,” he raps in “So Eazy,” “I’m just trying to do some shit that makes my mother proud.” If you don’t stay in school, becoming a successful rapper is a good alternative to keep your mom happy.